he <saw> the siren voice of the boodler <tip him the wink>

Japutra

Senior Member
Russian - Ukraine
I guess it kept him reminded about his graft whenever he saw the siren voice of the boodler tip him the wink with a bribe in his hand.

===

From Cabbages and King by O Henry, chapter 6 "The Phonograph and the Graft"

http://www.archive.org/stream/cabbag...riala_djvu.txt
One question is why "he saw the siren voice" ? and not heard ?

The second question is - am I right to believe that "tip" and "wink" are synonyms of the word "bribe" here or the meaning is just ~ "boodler winking him offering a bribe"?

Thank you in advance!
 
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  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Japutra, you could equally well ask whether a voice has a hand; and if it had a hand whether that hand could have a bribe in it.

    It looks like we are talking here about a person who is referred to as a siren voice.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    One question is why "he saw the siren voice" ? and hot heard ?
    I share your confusion here. It makes no sense to me.
    The second question is - am I right to believe that "tip" and "wink" are synonyms of the word "bribe" here or the meaning is just ~ "boodler winking him offering a bribe"?
    Maybe in this specific example, but not in general. "To tip someone the wink" means to give a covert signal to someone. It could be a wink, but it could be a meaningful raising of the eyebrows or something like that too. For example, one person could say to their partner "I know you don't really want to go to this party tonight - just tip me the wink when you're ready to leave and we'll go".
     

    MenteECuoreProgressista

    Member
    English - United States
    One question is why "he saw the siren voice" ? and hot heard ?

    The second question is - am I right to believe that "tip" and "wink" are synonyms of the word "bribe" here or the meaning is just ~ "boodler winking him offering a bribe"?

    Thank you in advance!
    Could this not be personification or synesthesia? I'm not well-versed in this sort of literature.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    One question is why "he saw the siren voice" ? and hot heard ?
    Because, as I have told you more than once, this is intentionally contradictory nonsense.

    Earlier in the story you were told of a man who was described as young and old, French and German, fat and thin, and happy and sad at the same time. You read of a city that had pastures instead of roads between the sidewalks, and that was inhabited by peasants instead of urbanites. Over and over and over again, you are given deliberate, intentional contradictions. You should therefore not be surprised that you find here a reference to "seeing" a "voice".

    O. Henry is writing in a familiar American folk idiom: the "tall tale". Think, for example, of the lyrics of the old song "Oh, Susanna":

    It rained all night the day I left,
    the weather it was dry;
    The sun so hot I froze to death,
    Susanna don't you cry.

    How can something rain, and be dry? How can it be day and night at the same time? How can one be frozen by the hot sun? Clearly, fact is not the point in this style of American song or story; the outlandish contradictions are not accidents, but are the whole POINT of the style.

    You really must stop looking for sense and logic here, and instead look for the humor of the playful, intentional lies and contradiction!!!
     
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    Paul E

    Senior Member
    English England
    Because, as I have told you more than once, this is intentionally contradictory nonsense.

    Earlier in the story you were told of a man who was described as young and old, French and German, fat and thin, and happy and sad at the same time. You read of a city that had pastures instead of roads between the sidewalks, and that was inhabited by peasants instead of urbanites. Over and over and over again, you are given deliberate, intentional contradictions. You should therefore not be surprised that you find here a reference to 'seeing" a "voice".

    O. Henry is writing in a familiar American folk idiom: the "tall tale". Think, for example, of the lyrics of the old song "Oh, Susanna":

    It rained all night the day I left,
    the weather it was dry;
    The sun so hot I froze to death,
    Susanna don't you cry.


    How can something rain, and be dry? How can it be day and night at the same time" How can one be frozen by the hot sun? Clearly, fact is not the point in this style of American song or story; the outlandish contradictions are not accidents, but are the whole POINT of the style.

    You really must stop looking for sense and logic here, and instead look for the humor of the playful, intentional lies and contradiction!!!
    Very well said, GreenWhiteBlue
     

    Eigenfunction

    Senior Member
    England - English
    The "Siren voice of the boodler" seems to have been personified as Mente suggested. As the "Siren voice" has become an object through such personification, it is no longer so closely linked to hearing. You wouldn't hear somebody tip you a wink, you have to see it. However, as GWB points out, it's probably not meant to make as much sense as you might like it to.
     
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